Advice I Wish I Had Listened to Much Earlier (and Why It’s Not Too Late): Part II

#2: Fill your time (not with school).

I’ve always found the first week of classes to be the most stressful. Sure, I have nothing due, but I’ve also got 12 weeks of hard labour ahead of me. Looking at the syllabus for the first time is one of the most frightening things that a student faces. With all of those readings, assignments and tests on one page, you begin to imagine your life chained to your computer, your face fused to the textbook.

A few weeks into school, you get back into the groove and remember that you are free to go for dinner with friends, take weekends away, and catch up on your favourite sitcoms. If you’re efficient with your schoolwork, you’ll actually find you have ample spare time.

For me, it was a gradual realization. In first year, I thought I needed to dedicate my life to school. As it turned out, I likely spent four-fifths of my time procrastinating. In second year, I decided I could take on a part-time job. I would work a few hours per week and still be able to keep up with school. Even with slightly less time on my hands, I still found hours to procrastinate.

By third year, I had a pretty good handle on time management and found that I was a much better student when I gave myself less time to study, but worked harder in that time. I was less stressed and producing better work.

Now, in my fourth year, I understand how crucial it is to get the most mileage out of my time. I’ve picked up a second job and begun an internship. Even with twice the responsibilities, I have been able to maintain the quality of my schoolwork, I spend more time with my friends and I’m more relaxed than ever.

If I knew what I was capable of four years ago, I would probably have a higher overall GPA, I would have made a lot more money, and my resumé would be much more impressive. Back then, five fresh syllabuses were a sentence to months of solitary confinement. Today, they’re an opportunity to apply the skills I pick up while I’m out living my life.

Challenge yourself to take on a new project. Get a job, volunteer, or do freelance work in your field. Chances are, you’ll be able to accomplish a lot and you’ll be more motivated than ever.

Danielle Klassen

Danielle Klassen is a graduate of Carleton University’s school of journalism, currently living and working in Toronto. With a background in business, Danielle writes to help readers to navigate the economic climate in practical ways. Connect with Danielle on Twitter @daniklassen

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